As he sat on his porch the other day, Amir Ali marveled that he never could have enjoyed such a simple pleasure a generation ago, when the city’s most notorious drug lord turned his Northeast Washington street into the epicenter of the District’s crack epidemic, crammed with heavily armed peddlers and desperate addicts.
Ali and many other Washingtonians thought they had seen the last of Rayful Edmond III in 1990 when a judge sentenced him to life without parole.
But with prosecutors now seeking Edmond’s early release — because he helped convict more than 100 other drug dealers over 20 years — this ghost of Washington’s ugly past has been reborn, forcing a public reckoning for a city that bears little resemblance to the one in which he reigned.
Others saw a connection between the terror caused by Edmond’s drug empire and the demographic and economic changes that have redefined the District since his arrest.
“Many decent people were forced to leave the homes of their parents and grandparents because of threats,” said Robert Vinson Brannum, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 5. “It must not be lost to the minds of others that African American communities were devastated, or forgotten.”